Lush with Barbara Kinsolver’s typical detail, this story transported me to a time and place I knew little about. The characters have distinct, interesting voices, and though I could see the train-wreck of a culture clash coming from the very first page, I read on, pulled inexorably toward the disaster, and then through it to the interesting things the surviving characters made of their lives afterward. I came away wanting to know more about the history of the Congo and maybe all of Africa.
As always when I read something like this, I found myself wondering what other important twentieth century events and movements my high school “World History” managed to completely skip.
I did find it difficult to believe a Southern Baptist preacher would be as immersed in the Apocrypha as the Reverend Price was, and that made me wonder about how accurately other cultures might be portrayed in the book. But perhaps Kingsolver took more trouble to research the various African groups than the American cultures she wasn’t fully part of.
This issue, however, is trifling, and on the whole, The Poisonwood Bible was well worth reading. Not, perhaps, good enough to make it onto my keeper shelf (for books I frequently reread), but close.